Recycling campaign gives a glimpse into the afterlife

Effort moves away from the oft used 'recycling to save the planet message'

Brenda Bouw June 18, 2015

MMBC #1A British Columbia recycling organization is trying a friendly, more practical approach to persuade people to sort their paper, cans and plastics.

Instead of nagging citizens to recycle to help save the planet, Multi-Material BC  (MMBC) has launched a campaign showing what consumer goods are generated from reused cans and bottles.

For instance, the print and digital work created by Toronto-based agency Elemental shows that park benches and fleece jackets can be made from recycled bottles, while steel can go into making household appliances.

The creative is based on the concept that recycling offers a useful “second life” for the products people use on a regular basis.

It’s a public awareness campaign that reminds consumers about the benefits they get from taking some extra time to sort their garbage, says Brent Wardrop, partner and creative director at Elemental.

“MMBC wanted to address recycling in B.C., but find a new and innovative way to make it top of mind,” says Wardrop of the client’s request for the campaign being rolled out in the province this spring and summer.

MMBC is a non-profit organization, financed by industry, to manage residential recycling programs across parts of the province. Its members include retailers, restaurants, manufacturers and distributors that supply packaging, as well as financial services companies that churn out paper statements and other materials to consumers.

“The real insight in the whole campaign started with the understanding that the ‘recycling to save the planet message’ is a bit tired,” adds Wardrop. “We gave credit to the consumer being smart, by not going to the ‘save the world’ story.”

The campaign was instead focused on educating consumers about what happens to cans and bottles after they’re tossed in the recycling bin.

“Who hasn’t ever wondered: ‘What happens to those soup cans? What could they ever be used for?’” says Wardrop. “The truth is a remarkable volume of things.”

The MMBC campaign includes print and digital advertising as well as a radio spot featuring a palm teller looking into a woman’s past, declaring that her jacket was once dozens of plastics bottles. It ends with the line, “Give your recycling a second life.”

This latest campaign follows one Elemental did for MMBC last year with slogan, “Same Bin, New Tricks,” which promoted new items that could be recycled, such as milk cartons, plant pots and aluminum foil packaging.

Wardrop said the 2014 BC Recycling campaign was recently awarded gold from the Communicator Awards in the Humourous Commercial category, and silver in the radio/creative concept category.